Pentagon cancels aid to Pakistan over record on militants

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Washington: America has cancelled USD 300 million of aid to Pakistan just days before a visit by Washington’s top diplomat, amid US frustration Islamabad is still doing too little to rein in Afghan militants.

The Pentagon said it would spend the military aid elsewhere because of a lack of Pakistani action backing US troops in Afghanistan.

The Trump administration says Islamabad is granting safe haven to insurgents who are waging a 17-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan denies.

But US officials had held out the possibility that Pakistan could win back that support if it changed its behavior.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in particular, had an opportunity to authorize USD 300 million in CSF funds through this summer – if he saw concrete Pakistani actions to go after insurgents but he chose not to.

“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy the remaining USD 300 million was reprogrammed,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said.

The disclosure came ahead of an expected visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the top US military officer, General Joseph Dunford, to Islamabad. Mattis told reporters on Tuesday that combating militants would be a “primary part of the discussion.”

Experts on the Afghan conflict, America’s longest war, argue that militant safe havens in Pakistan have allowed Taliban-linked insurgents in Afghanistan a place to plot deadly strikes and regroup after ground offensives.

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